Travel Blog of the Month: Wanderlustingk
October’s ‘Travel Blog of the Month’ winner is Wanderlustingk, penned by Karen, a New Yorker now living in Europe. This dedicated travel blogger squeezed in our interview whilst moving countries (The Netherlands to France)! She tells us of her favourite trips, how travel helps her ‘let go’ and why she always takes cat treats in her pocket…
Nationality: American now living in Paris.
Travel Blog: Wanderlustingk
1. When did you start your travel blog & what inspired you to set it up?
I started my travel blog in January of 2016 shortly after moving to Amsterdam with my now husband. I’m a New Yorker and I have been often asked for travel advice by friends visiting NYC for the first time. At first, I’d direct all their queries to Google, but I started reading blogs about New York City and I felt like I wanted to give a local’s perspective. It also inspired me to explore Amsterdam more than I would have otherwise.
2. Name one of your favourite overseas travel destinations, and why.
I loved Malaysia. There’s so much diversity in terms of culture and nature. We spent two weeks traveling in Malaysian Borneo, including seeing wild monkeys. I felt like I was part of a National Geographic movie. I also loved the food in Malaysia as well as the very friendly people that we met. I was able to connect with a local girl through Girls Love Travel (a Facebook group for women travelers) who spent the day showing us her favorite spots in the city before we ended the day with a beer on a beach. I feel like I need a lifetime to explore Malaysia properly, so I’ll be back to spend more time exploring other regions that I didn’t get to this trip.
3. Can you tell us a couple of great travel memories?
My husband and I started dating due to a trip that didn’t fully come together and despite barely knowing each other, we agreed to meet up in Italy for a week after we realized we’d both be in Italy solo during the same time. My friends thought I was crazy, but I had a good feeling about him. The week was kind of a magical time between getting lost in the streets of Venice to eating out in Bologna. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had finally found the person that I wanted to travel with–and we got married this year.
One of my favorite trips to date was our trip driving the entirety of Ring Road in Iceland in winter. The driving was difficult, however the nature and the remoteness of much of Iceland surprised me. Compared to the many city trips that we had done before this, winter in Iceland convinced me that I wanted to do more nature related trips.
4. Which European city do you love most?
Definitely Amsterdam. My husband and I moved to Amsterdam about two years ago for work and although I didn’t love it on my first trip as a tourist, I fell in love with Amsterdam due to its diversity, beautiful streets, and many secret spots.
5. What’s your favourite travel blog you’ve written called & why?
To date, my favorite blog post is called Insider Tips for New York City on a Budget by a New Yorker. This was the reason I started my travel blog: I wanted to show people how much more there was to New York besides what they knew from travel blogs by visitors and that it was possible to visit New York without spending much money. I loved showing people another side to New York: the diverse, cheap, and quirky side that most people don’t ever see if they only stay in the touristic areas.
6. What future travel do you hope to do?
I’m hoping to do more trips up into the mountains now that I’m only two hours from the Alps and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to take our dream honeymoon (going on safari in Africa) in a few years. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to exploring France and heading back to the US more in the coming year. Despite living most of my life in the United States, I’d love to see more of my own country.
7. What three items are must-bring things for you on your trip (other than the essentials like passport etc)?
I always bring a book with me as you never know when you’ll be stuck on a long bus ride. Before I leave a country, I love to pick up a book by a local author if I can find one for once I’m back from the trip.
A map. Whether it’s a physical map or a map that’s downloaded on my phone, it’s so important to know where you’re going without having to ask constantly. As an independent traveler, I love being able to move around freely with learning my way as it also allows me to see more of the city while walking around.
Cat treats. I know this one is a bit strange, but I often keep cat treats in my purse with the hope that I can feed/charm some of the local stray cats if I meet them. I always miss my own my cat when I’m traveling, so this is my way for atoning for leaving her with a friend.
8. What’s the best thing travel has taught you?
Travel has taught me to let go a bit. I typically plan every single trip and figure out all the logistics. Last year, my husband surprised me with a ticket to go to Kosovo with the condition that I couldn’t plan anything in advance. As a result, we ended up talking with many Kosovo residents who were thrilled that we were visiting–and gave us some incredible travel advice. While in Kosovo, I really fell in love with the Balkan region and we returned to Albania this summer. As a result, we took it easy and I didn’t plan too much. It was really nice to be on an actual vacation where we actually weren’t sure what we’d do each day. I was surprised how relaxing it felt.
9. What book would you recommend as a good read on a long trip?
I typically burn through books, so I recommend bringing a beast of a book that will occupy your times and your thoughts: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it, but it made me obsessed with finding out what happened next.
10. Finally, what’s your favourite tipple (alcoholic or non alcoholic)?
I’m a tea lover. I love exploring crazy new tea flavors as well as discovering new tea shops when I’m traveling as I like to collect new teas that I haven’t tried before.